Cultural triangle of Sri Lanka
The cultural triangle of Sri Lanka showcases some of the stunning historical marvels in form of Dagobas, Palaces, Lakes, tanks, paintings and statues. Sri Lanka, today, the wonder of Asia had been a wonder of the world many centuries before.
Cultural triangle of Sri Lanka is located in the central province of Sri Lanka. The three corners of the triangle are Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. The cultural triangle of Sri Lanka as the name denotes comprised of a Large number of Cultural and historically important places such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya.
Centuries past the Sri Lankan civilization unfortunately targeted by the south Indian Tamil invaders and it was the major reason for the downfall of this great culture. Even though Sri Lankan kings were managed to regain the kingship from the invaders, damages done to the cities were beyond the repair. There had been many such invasions destroying the great achievements of the Sinhalese people in the past. Today some of their great achievements can still be seen in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
The constructions of ancient Sinhalese engineers show the advance knowledge of trigonometry and a thorough grasp of hydraulic principals. Their arts and crafts are boasts to be some of the masterpieces in the old world. In this article, I share some of my favourite monuments from the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Life is too short; don’t wait for the perfect moment to explore the achievements of this great culture. Therefore pack your case and set off for the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. You have a great opportunity to explore one of the advanced civilizations existed in the past.
What is the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka, one of the most popular tourist destination in southern Asia has a large number of historical attractions. Most of these historical places are top-notch holiday attractions in the country and include in most road trips of Sri Lanka. Most of these historical places are concentrated in the so-called ‘cultural triangle’. The three corners of the cultural triangle are formed by Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Most tourist, who make round tours in Sri Lanka visit the attractions in the cultural triangle. It is highly unlikely to get a tour itinerary without these places as attractions to visit.
What do I see in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka?
Sri Lankan civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. First, it emerged in the 4th century BC and evolved for many thousands of years. During this period Sri Lankan civilizations were enriched by other contemporary civilizations in the world such as Rome and Greek. This ancient civilization was strong believers of Buddhism and it was the foundation of their culture. The kings and queens of ancient Sri Lanka had managed to build large constructions such as Jetawanarama, which was the largest Buddhist construction by 5th century AD and it was as big as the second pyramid in Giza. Apart from dagobas historical places in the cultural triangle are comprised of palaces, bath ponds, image houses, and dwelling houses for monks, audience hall, chapter houses and many other religious places such as Jayasri Maha Bodhi.
Where about the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka?
You may be wondering, why the majority of attractions in the cultural triangle are to be found in Dry-zone of Sri Lanka. According to the archaeologists, the reason being that dry-zone had been the region, where ancient culture most flourished. Dry-zone had the most appropriate conditions for the agriculture lifestyle of ancient Sri Lanka society. They were dependent on cultivation such as rice and lived in places where water was readily available. The people of ancient Sri Lanka had built large-scale irrigation networks, in order to supply water for agricultural lands. These irrigation networks are still in use and tourists have the opportunity to see some of the gigantic reservoirs and canals achieved by the ancient engineers.
Along with the material development this ancient civilization had concentrated on the spiritual development as well. They had great dedication to their religion and built gigantic temple and monasteries for monks. These monasteries and temples were adorned with paintings, sculptures, murals, stone and wood carvings and many other elements.
Today Sri Lanka has its own identity with regards to the arts and crafts large due to the ancient artisans of Sinhalese culture. The cultural triangle is considered as a treasure trove of the island and some of the valuable items discovered during the excavations are very rare and of high value. According to the archaeologist, only a portion of the treasure of this great culture unearthed so far and there is much more to unearth. Sri Lanka is a holiday destination that offers a wide range of products for tourists from pristine beaches to relax to unbelievable achievements of one of the most ancient cultures in the world.
How do I travel to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka?
Usually, most travellers who wish to explore the cultural triangle start their tour in Anuradhapura, while some of them start the cultural triangle tour from Kandy. If you wish to see only important places in the cultural triangle, starting the tour in Anuradhapura or Kandy does not make much difference. But if you wish to explore other important places such as mountains, southern Sri Lanka, along with the cultural triangle, it highly recommended commencing your cultural triangle tour in Anuradhapura.
If you start the cultural triangle tour from Anuradhapura you can proceed in the southward direction from Anuradhapura exploring other important sites in the cultural triangle such as Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Kandy. After visiting cultural triangle then you can continue the journey further in the direction of southern Sri Lanka and explore Mountains, tea garden and Yala national park. Later you will be able to travel to southern and west coast beaches and Colombo.
Usually, most Sri Lanka tour packages offered by Sri Lanka tour operators such as Seerendipity tours start in Anuradhapura and continues through mountains, southern Sri Lanka and west coast. It is the most convenient and time-saving route while it saves a lot of money for travellers.
How long do I need to explore cultural triangle?
The duration of the cultural triangle tour highly depends on the time you spent to explore the historical marvels. We usually organize the cultural triangle tour from Colombo and the duration of the tour is 3 days. This three days tour cover all important sites in the cultural triangle and participants can see the places without any hassle. The same tour can be done in 2 days (if you have only limited time), but then the time spent on sites limited and travellers do not have much time to relax during the tour.
How do I find accommodation in the cultural triangle?
The availability of accommodations in the cultural triangle is very high and travellers can find luxurious boutique hotels to cheap accommodation types such as dormitories. There is very high demand for accommodation facilities in the cultural triangle because it includes most Sri Lanka land packages. Normally the travellers base in cities such as Habarana, Sigiriya, Dambulla during their tour and make short tours to important places in the cultural triangle. Habaran and Sigiriya are centrally located in the cultural triangle, hence provide the easy access to all places within a short period of time. Due to this reason, most travellers opt to say in those cities and the most number of hotels are also concentrated in those areas.
How much is the entrance fee to the cultural triangle?
The cultural triangle is under the purview of the archaeological department and central cultural fund, which are government institutions. The visitors should pay the entrance fees to all sites of the cultural triangle. The entrance ticket can be bought at the main gate of each site. The separate entrance ticket should be bought at each location. Earlier there was a ticket allowing the travellers to enter all places of the cultural triangle but this ticket is not available anymore.
The prices of the entrance ticket at each location of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka is as below.
Anuradhapura USD 25
Polonnaruwa USD 25
Sigiriya USD 30
Dambulla Golden cave temple USD 10
The tooth relic temple USD 10
What are the important sites in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka?
Anuradhapura was founded by King Pandukabhaya in the 4th century B.C and Anuradhapura was the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura was the capital of Sri Lanka till 11th century A.D. and the city was the capital of Sri Lanka for more than thousand years. Anuradhapura had been the centre for Buddhism and it had been 40 km² in extent.
Anuradhapura considered being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Same times it had been one of the most stable and durable centres of political power and urban life in South Asia. Today Anuradhapura is being visited by many foreign as well as local tourists, owing to its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. Some of the religious edifices of Anuradhapura are more than 2000 years old and in extent second only to the structures of Egypt.
A large number of palaces, temples, dagobas, parks, moats, ponds, reservoirs and many other historical buildings are scattered all over the historical city. Some of the buildings are not yet identified by the historians and a large part of the city is yet to be uncovered. Anuradhapura is one of the world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and attracts a large number of local and foreign travellers since its discovery in nearly 18’s.
Anuradhapura is a must visited place for travellers, who wish to see the rich historical past of the island. Anuradhapura is worth to be considered as a destination for a short tour. It has a large number of ruins dating back to the 2nd century BC. If you visit Sri Lanka just for a beach holiday and water sports, you might miss one important part of the Sri Lankan life. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that were continuously inhabited since the pre-Christian era.
The historical cities such as Anuradhapura showcase the knowledge of ancient inhabitants in the fields of architecture, engineering, water management, Ayurveda medicine and art & craft. Their dedication to the religion is testified by the gigantic temples and other religious buildings. The magnitude size of the ancient city demands you several weeks if you wish to study all the monuments. In spite of being a large city, it is calm and serene. The city has a high profile among the historical attraction in the country. Following are some of the important places that can be covered within several hours and important attractions with religious importance.
Anuradhapura historical places
Thuparama is the oldest Dagoba in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Thuparama dagoba built by King Devanampiyatissa and one of the oldest constructions in the historical city of Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura is an archaeological zoo and has a large number of historical monuments. I hereby listed some of the most important places in the city.
- Abhayagiri Monastery complex
- Jetawana monastery complex
- Palace of King Vijayabahu
- Sri Maha Bodhi
- Brazen palace
- Ruvanveliseya Dagoba
- Thuparama Dagoba
- Dakkina stupa
- Mirisaveti Dagoba
- Aukana Buddha Statue
Legend apart, inscriptions suggest that the history of Polonnaruwa dates back at least to the 2nd century AD, in the 6th century it became a military garrison of some importance to the Sinhalese kings of Anuradhapura. This was because it guarded the vital crossing point of the Mahaweli River from the southern province of Ruhuna, where rebellion was a continuous threat. A century later, the kings of Anuradhapura started to use Polonnaruwa as a country residence.
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of ancient Sri Lanka from 11th to 13th century. Polonnaruwa is the home for many ancient religious buildings dates back to the pre-Christian era. Along with the religious buildings, one can see the Palaces, Audience halls, Trade stalls, and many Hindu temples. The ruins of Polonnaruwa are younger than the ruins of Anuradhapura and in good shape.
Historical places in Polonnaruwa
- Pothgul vehera
- council chamber
- Nissankamalla bath
- The palace of King Parakramabahu
- The Quadrangle
- Menik vehera
- Pabalu vehera
- Rankot Vehera
- Ayurveda hospital
- Tivanka Image house
Sigiriya considered being one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Sigiriya (Lion’s rock) is an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos), which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.
Dambulla golden cave temple is one of the ancient cave temples in southern India. Dambulla cave temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka. Dambulla temple complex comprises 5 caves and the temple dates back to 1st century B.C. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of god and goddess. The latter 4 include two statues of Hindu gods, Vishnu and Ganesh.
The tooth relic temple of Kandy is the world heritage site in the mountains. The temple is visited by hundreds of thousands of devotees every day and the temple is included in almost every tour package offered in Sri Lanka.
Kandy lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an administrative and religious city. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) one of the most venerable places for the Buddhist community of Sri Lanka and all around the world.
Places to visit in Kandy
- Temple of the tooth relic
- Pattini devala
- Hindagala temple
- Gadaladeniya temple
- Lankathilaka temple
- Embekke devala